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News > Alumni Visit Arden > "No career is linear': alumni encourage Year 10 students to be both adaptable and determined.

"No career is linear': alumni encourage Year 10 students to be both adaptable and determined.

Alumni share their career journeys with our Year 10 students.
Alumni share their career journeys with our Year 10 students.

Cast your mind back to how you felt about your future in Year 10 – perhaps unsure, perhaps full of hope, but almost certainly on the lookout for more information. Fourteen alumni provided this inspiration and practical advice as they shared their career journeys with our Year 10 students at their ‘Be Connected to My Future’ Day last term.

“I came back to speak today because I wanted to give these young people a chance to ask their questions and help them in their life as much as I could,” said Tim Duncan (Class of 2020), now a freelance photographer and filmmaker.

Being a dose of career reality was what motivated Tyler McConnell (Class of 2013), a midwife and women’s health educator, to help out.

“When I saw the call out for alumni I straight away wanted to jump on the opportunity,” Tyler explained. “Being a young person, being in Year 10 can be so hard. You have different inputs from every angle on what you should do, and trying to make that decision so young can be so intimidating. What better way to ease some of that than to tell them that life does take all these amazing twists and turns and you end up where you are supposed to be?”

The 14 alumni spoke as part of a ‘Living Library’ collection, where groups of students listened to presenters’ stories about their study and work history, and asked questions along the way.

The alumni covered industries such as information technology, law and teaching, and discussed their HSC subject choices, further study undertaken, jobs experienced, and the factors that influenced their decisions.

Elise Brush (nee Webb, Class of 2015) is now an allied health assistant, and wanted to share how an unplanned pathway can be deeply satisfying.

“I have had quite an interesting career journey,” Elise reflected. “I have done a lot of things that I never expected to do when I was in Year 10, and I wanted to come and share my story so that our lovely Year 10s know that just because they think they have their lives sorted, if something changes, it’s not the end of the world. God has got a plan for you, and He will make happen what He wants to happen.”

Tyler agreed, saying, “No career is linear, and it will be okay in the end. You don’t have to make one decision and that’s what you are going to do for the rest of your life. Yes, you can go to university and follow this great structure – I did that – but at the same time I also was able to explore my interests and open my career up in other ways just by doing things that I love and that I am passionate about.”

Following your passion is also something that Tim recommends, giving the Year 10 students this advice: “Figure out what you believe and what you are passionate about and chase both those things, and do that through not just Years 11 and 12, but the rest of your life as well.”

Enthusiastic students soaked up the wisdom and advice offered by our alumni, and asked lots of questions about each speaker’s career journey.

Year 10 student Grace said that hearing about genuine career journeys had been enormously helpful.

“It was really great to see a version of what is happening in careers that has not been glamourised by social media, or someone else’s idea of what is happening,” she noted, “but just a realistic version with challenges and hurdles to overcome, like what these alumni all did.”

The message about adapting to unexpected events resonated with student Emma.

“I enjoyed hearing all the different stories from the alumni and how they all had different ways of getting where they wanted to go,” she said. “Some just got straight into their jobs, some went to uni and some went to TAFE.”

Our alumni were thanked for their willingness to share with the grateful Year 10 students, who were already busy making plans for themselves.

“I enjoyed the fact I could relate to the alumni – them being from Arden and me being at Arden right now,” said student Ethan. “Seeing how they chose their career path and their struggles and what they were good at was helpful towards my selection of subjects and what I want to do in the future as well.”

The Living Library will be held again next year as part of the annual ‘Be Connected to My Future’ Day. If you are interested in sharing your career story, please contact

We are grateful to the following alumni for their contribution this year:

Tim Barbarino (2009), Elise Brush (nee Webb, 2015), Thomas Congerton (2017), Alessandra Dimarco (2016), Tim Duncan (2020), Cordealia Evans (2018), Blake Jeffery (2010), Ashleigh Lister (2014), Maja Pavic (2017), Tylah McConnell (2013), Hayley Middleton (2015), Emma Petterson (2013), Tim Webb (2009) and Lauren Wood (2020)

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